Ramones Leave Home Review

Album. Released 1977.  

BBC Review

As perfect and exhilarating as it could be within its own stripped-down, guitar, bass...

Chris Jones 2008

Always lumped in with the class of '77 in terms of punk's first wave, The Ramones first album had actually been unleashed very early in 1976. It took a good year for the band's reputation to spread beyond the environs of New York, so far ahead of their time were they. Thus, it was nearly a year later that their follow-up finally hit the shelves – the title referencing the fact that, following their UK tour, the band were now world-travellers. It contained another 14 tracks of three-minute-or-less, three-chord dumbness. Excellent stuff…

With most of the material written at the same time as their debut and having been performed live for over twelve months (how else would they have made up a full hour-long set list?), Leave Home is more of the same. But it's far from a carbon copy of its predecessor. For starters the studio budget had gone up allowing the band to get a smoother sound and a better producer. Tommy Bongiovi (second cousin to Jon Bon Jovi, fact fans) had won his engineer's spurs with no one less than Jimi Hendrix, and his production, while only taking off a few of the edges, allowed the band to refine their sound.

Subject matter-wise it was business as usual, with songs about fairground freaks (Pinhead), right-wing militarism (Commando), mental illness (Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment), misogyny (Glad To See You Go) and low rent drug abuse (Carbona Not Glue); all served with a good dose of humour. The latter again landed them in trouble, getting the album withdrawn and re-released with an alternative track (the b-side, Babysitter).

But alongside the heady rush of the full-on approach was 'da brudders' love of 60s surf-pop and Phil Spector romanticism. Their cover of The Riviera's California Sun makes perfect sense, and Joey's rendition of I Remember You is as sweet a love song as you could get.

Ultimately, Leave Home is a reconciliation and, along with the other three of their first four albums is basically as perfect and exhilarating as it could be within its own stripped-down, guitar, bass and drums universe. Gabba gabba hey, indeed…

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